eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley

Ramblings of Matt

Beta Day: FogBugz 4.0 and VS.NET 2005

December 15, 2004 23:18 by matthaw

So today I decided it was going to be a beta day, well really, I was just going to work in VS.NET 2005’s Nov. CTP distro that was just launched, more on this later. However, prior to lunch I got an email notifying me that I’ve been accepted into the FogBugz 4.0 beta program. Ohh yeah! Now, I’m going to keep Joel’s “Mouth Wide Shut” policy by not discussing anyting about the 4.0 beta, but I do have to say this – its stable, more powerful, and a bunch of new awesome features have been added.

With that said, its time to move onto VS.NET 2005. Wow, this thing gets better and better with each new CTP or beta that is released. I’ve spent some time just working with web apps right now, you know the basics. The one feature that was lacking in the current versions of VS.NET that I now LOVE in VS.NET 2005 is the fact that you have intellisense for custom controls – and without doing anything! By simply adding your Register directive or using the new global Registration for controls, you’ll immediately start seeing intellisense for your custom controls. You don’t realize how many times I as a web control author, have been asked “how come this doesn’t have any intellisense?” I’m also still getting used to the idea of no precompilation of web apps anymore, however I did see that you can “publish” precompiled apps to a location that will allow you to deploy those handy-dandy assemblies instead of source code.

I did notice one bug, and I’ve not read the release notes yet, but the ASP.NET configuration manager doesn’t work – at least not logged on as an admin (still haven’t tried as an admin yet). Also, I’m finally glad that binding data using the ObjectDataSource finally works…thats going to make binding to business objects soooo much easier. Wow, I’m still amazed, now – back to more playing / testing!

Categories: .NET | General | Whidbey
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Nov. CTP Installation Gotchas

December 14, 2004 23:31 by matthaw

So I’m at work and trying to install the November CTP from my one laptop to my test laptop. Here’s a few gotcha’s that you need to know when using Nero Image Drive…

  • You cannot connect directly to the virtual drive, you need to share it from your host machine.
  • The setup will fail trying to find the file VS_SETUP.MSI if installing across a network address (ie: \\\vs2k5\vs). To solve this issue map a drive on your test machine to that folder and try re-running the install, works just fine. Odd how this works, bug?
  • You have to install all the products in order to not receive an error message – this was posted previously, I just want to reiterate the fact.
  • I love that we don’t have pre-reqs anymore!

Update – I can’t get it to install! ERR! Nothing I do makes a difference! Ohh, its not a clean install – any ideas from the MS camp?

Update 2 – Attempting to install the 2.0 framework individually reports that my Windows Installer service cannot be accessed. I just may go with a fresh rebuild – not like I have anything of importance.

Categories: .NET | Whidbey
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VS.NET 2005 September CTP

September 1, 2004 05:21 by matthaw
Just saw from Wally that the VS.NET 2005 September CTP bits are available on MSDN. 16 hours for him, eek! 3-5 hours for me

Categories: .NET | Whidbey
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Excellent ASP.NET 2.0 Resource Blog

July 7, 2004 18:30 by matthaw

I just ran across a great ASP.NET 2.0 Resource Blog by Fredrik Normen. The stuff he posts is just amazing, make sure to check it out.


Categories: .NET | Whidbey
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Whidbey DataSources - Are they Cumbersome?

June 7, 2004 18:10 by matthaw

So I've had a bit of time to think about the new DataSources objects that are in ASP.NET 2.0, and I think I've come to the conclusion that ultimately they'll be more cumbersome than helpful. I state this in reference to how a lot of my applications are built, in which each page will have a TON of data access to do, all requiring their own business object to be called.

While the concept of using DataSources is very cool and easy to use when creating simplistic web applications, its going to be more cumbersome for more advanced applications. Now, why would it be cumbersome? Well, its taking the whole separation of code and design back to the old days, where its mixed together.  With the advent of .NET 1.0, we had a distinct separation, but it seems this distinction line is fading extremely fast in lue of Visual Studio 2005.

It is also going to be more cumbersome because instead of having distinct areas for server controls, and having your data binding methods in code, you're going to be adding more overhead to the HTML structure of a webform. So, instead of just having (in HTML):

Drop Down List 1: <asp:DropDownList runat="server" id="ddl1" />
Drop Down List 2: <asp:DropDownList runat="server" id="ddl2" />

you now have more HTML to write, which can be confusing to designers or newbies. In fact, I'm an advanced developer and I still get confused with all the extra HTML that is required:

Drop Down List 1: <asp:DropDownList runat="server" id="ddl1"  DataSourceID="..." />
<asp:SqlDataSource runat="server" ..... />
Drop Down List 2: <asp:DropDownList runat="server" id="ddl2" DataSourceID="..." />
<asp:SqlDataSource runat="server" ..... />

Sure, this isn't as complicated, because its simplistic. Imagine needing 15 drop down lists, all coming from different data sources, as well as binding a datagrid, and some detail information. That can amount to about 17 of those DataSource items, on top of your regular HTML. Now imaging that being step 1 of a wizard type UI, and having the same type of step 5 more times. Do you see what I'm getting at now?

So, is there any way of using these DataSource controls with regular HTML markup? Maybe, but I would have to propose a section that you define in your HTML page so that everything is contained in 1 place for ease. Other than that, I think I will be ultimately dreading using DataSources for future projects because of this primary problem.

Categories: .NET | Whidbey
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Whidbey Updates from Scott Louvau

April 15, 2004 20:09 by matthaw

Scott Louvau just recently posted a summary listing to the Whidbey newsgroups on what his team is working on. Some items were notable enough to get blogged, so here ya go in case you missed them:

"For the build process, we will have an explicit build step, and it will
list all of the Build Errors in the Web Application. This was something we
were still working on when we released the build that you have."

"I'm not sure why they chose the border around braces rather than bolding
to show matched braces. They are fixing it so that it won't cause the
cursor to be hidden. This one bugged me immediately, too. =)"="/P">

Both of these items were big on my list. Most notably, the first one. This is great that we'll be able to build our Web Applications like we currently do, I can't wait to see this in future builds. Also - I too hate the boxes around the curly braces, I like the bolded way better - its less distractive.

Categories: Whidbey
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More ASP.NET 2.0 VS.NET 2005 CTP Experiences

April 11, 2004 00:13 by matthaw

I started playing around with ASP.NET 2.0 a lot more this afternoon, and I've definately found some stuff that are a great enhancement.

  • When referencing custom server controls that are stored in the GAC, you only need to have your register directive contain the TagPrefix, Namespace, and Assembly. There's no option to "CopyLocal" anymore, however it pulls directly from the GAC if the assembly lives there. Very cool, and easy for updating to future components. However, I do miss the "CopyLocal" option in case I want different applications using different versions.
  • Nesting Master Pages is awesome! I've got my overall layout with 1 content page. I then have another master page that has its masterPageFile set to the main layout. Then, in my separate pages, I reference the nested master page and everything comes together. The one thing I don't like about this is that you can't use Design view to modify nested master's and pages deriving from nested master pages.
  • I did find a bug when using the TreeView control and databinding it to Site Map Data Sources, or maybe it was the theme I applied to the TreeView...however, make a mental note. If you get a message stating that your <head> tag needs a runat="server", your <title> tag will get overwritten for some reason, and a default <title> tag with the contents "Untitled Page" will be used instead. I've submitted this bug to the Whidbey newsgroups.
  • I wish there was a way utilizing the Site Maps & Tree View to collapse everything except for the current node (or parent node if I'm in the sub-node) to be collapsed.  Take my website for instance. When you're on the homepage, the only sub-links you see are relevant to the homepage, however other broad subjects are visible with their children hidden. I'm sure there's a way to do this via code, but it would be nice to have a property for this type of situation.
  • Why is it that when creating your Site Map, the <siteMap> element can only contain 1 <siteMapNode>, however, <siteMapNode> elements can contain 0-N many sub elements? Again, I make reference to my website, in which I don't want an top node, I just want my main headings. Any info relating to this would be helpful.
  • Here's an interesting question...when working with code-behind files for web pages, why is it that the icons for those code-behind files have the resource file icon? Shouldn't I see a C# icon if it has a .aspx.cs extension or a VB.NET icon if it has a .aspx.vb extension?
  • Themeing is extremely powerful and uber cool. At first I couldn't figure out how to use themeing against custom server controls, but then after an error message saying it couldn't find my custom tag prefix, it hit me.  Just place your Register directive at the top of the skin file and all is well.  Talk about making things easy :)
  • I'm starting to enjoy not having to recompile everytime I make a change now, however I'm sure my view will turn to frustration again once I start working with classes & code that I would like to be verified against for syntax errors prior to viewing the webpage.

And that's it for today, I gotta start packing so I can get to my parents home for Easter, so I hope my little insight will help everyone out.

Happy Whidbey Coding!

Categories: Whidbey
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Personalization Changes in VS.NET 2005 CTP

March 31, 2004 19:24 by matthaw

I started trudging my way through some more hands on labs, and when I got to the personalization HOL, the suggested web.config entries wouldn't work:

property name="NickName" type="System.String"
property name="Address" type="System.String"

So, after doing some digging around the newsgroups...I found a thread in one of the private Whidbey newsgroups, stating that personalization had been changed, and that you need to use the following format in the CTP drop:


        <add name="NickName" type="System.String"/>
        <add name="Address" type="System.String"/>
        <add name="SelectedTheme" type="System.String"/>


Happy Whidbey Coding!

Categories: Whidbey
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VS.NET 2005 CTP & ASP.NET - Round 2

March 31, 2004 01:00 by matthaw

I started digging into ASP.NET 2.0 some more today, playing with the new security controls & data binding. I've very impressed in how both of these work, with the ability to "open" things up by providing your own providers & databinding against custom business objects.

I was able to throw together a very simplistic secured application using the security controls in a matter of minutes.  Sure, it didn't look pretty, but I was able to register, log in, change my password, and logout without writing more than 5 lines of code.  One word comes to my mind... "wow".  I wanted to dive in further, and see if I could create my own provider, but I decided against that for now because I wanted to get into the nitty gritty stuff.

So...I travelled along, following the Hands on Labs from PDC, and only got as far as databinding.  Again, one word comes to mind..."wow".  It was one thing seeing Scott give a demo on it, but was a completely different experience when actually creating data-bound pages with ease.  So far, I've only had a beef with the IDE when trying to bind against business logic layers that return something other than DataSet or DataTable (List<T> just doesn't like to show up in the Wizard).  But, after looking at the code to reference a business object, I was able to use a List<T> return type, and again...was thuroughly amazed.

After my rant from yesterday, I'm starting to get more used to the environment.  It still would be nice to go back to the traditional way if we wanted, but I can handle without it for now. So...I guess my next steps are to continue going through the Hands on Labs, and eventually create a working website that showcases everything I've learned.

Categories: Whidbey
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Reporting Bugs in VS.NET 2005 CTP

March 30, 2004 00:21 by matthaw

As I'm starting to use VS.NET 2005 CTP more and more, I'm coming across some bugs...duh!  Well, I was hunting around the IDE to see if there was a "Submit a Bug" menu item, or a shortcut to a website...however I could not find anything.

Then it dawned on me...I bet theres a newsgroup for this in the private sector...sure enough there was.  So, I've posted a few bugs there, and will do so for future ones, and I would suggest everyone else doing the same (unless MS has another form of collecting bug submissions that I'm not aware of).  So if you want access, point you're preferreed news reader to:

Server: privatenews.microsoft.com
Newsgroup: microsoft.private.whidbey.aspnet.bugs
Username: privatenews\VSUser
Password: Password

This news server also has some other whidbey related newsgroups that I've subscribed too as well, but there isn't that much activity.  Lets turn that around and make that the place to go for help & bug submissions!

Categories: Whidbey
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